Specs at a glance: Xiaomi Air 12
12.5-inch 1080p IPS
Windows 10 Home (Chinese Edition)
Intel Core m3-6Y30 dual-core @ 900MHz (2.2GHz Turbo)
4GB LPDDR3 (non-upgradeable)
Intel HD Graphics 515
128GB SATA SSD (M.2 slot available)
Wi-Fi 802.11ac, Bluetooth 4.1
1x USB 3.0 Type-C, USB 3.0 Type-A, HDMI, headphone jack
11.5″ x 7.95″ x 0.51″ (292mm x 202mm x 12.9mm)
2.36 lbs (1.07kg)
£400/$490 (price varies)
720p webcam, backlit keyboard
You cannot directly buy the Xiaomi Air 12 in the UK, US, or indeed many markets outside China.
Instead, you will most likely have to import it.
As such, you will likely receive less customer support if things go wrong.
If you’re in the market for a compact laptop and have an eye on style there’s one obvious choice: the Apple MacBook. Unfortunately, while the MacBook is a desirable piece of kit, its starting price of £1,250 for a mere Core m3 processor and 8GB of memory is hardly what you’d call good value.
While there are Windows alternatives to the MacBook—Microsoft’s Surface and Dell’s XPS 12 spring to mind—few are based on the same compact 12-inch laptop form factor, or cost substantially less money.
Chinese gadget maker Xiaomi wants to change all that with the Xiaomi Air 12, a MacBook-style laptop that retails for a third of the price. Not only does the Air 12 feature a remarkably similar industrial design to Cupertino’s offering, it boasts similar specs too.
It’s almost too good to be true.
Buying an Air 12 is not a wholly risk-free undertaking. Xiaomi hasn’t officially released the Air 12 (or its 13-inch big brother the Air 13) in the UK, US, or other western markets.
Buying one means dealing with grey importers and sucking up the associated ramifications regarding import duties and after-sales support, or lack thereof. My review sample came from Chinese reseller GearBest, which, at the time of writing, wants just under £400 ($490 in the US) for an Air 12. Unfortunately, DHL charged another £19 of import duty before delivery, bringing the total cost to just shy of £420.
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